Power Your Mind and Body with MCTs

What Are Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs)

Medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) are partially manmade fats. The name refers to the way the carbon atoms are arranged in their chemical structure. MCTs are generally made by processing coconut and palm kernel oils in the laboratory. Usual dietary fats, by comparison, are long-chain triglycerides. MCTs are can be found in dairy fats and palm oils, but the most effective source of MCT is coconut oil. About 65% of coconut oils are made up of MCTs of varying chain lengths.

MCTs contain between 6 and 12 carbon chains (the numbers define the length of the carbon chains):

  • C6 – Caproic Acid : Quickly converts to ketones. coconut oil has minuscule amounts, it tastes bad, and it often results in stomach upset.
  • C8 – Caprylic Acid: Coconut oil contains 6% of this MCT. It is the fastest MCT to metabolize and has antimicrobial properties, more so than lauric acid which is is the main MCT found in coconut oil. Brain Octane Oil  is a high quality MCT product is mainly composed of this MCT. You would need 18 tablespoons of coconut oil to get just one tablespoon of Brain Octane.
  • C10 – Capric Acid: Coconut oil contains 9% of this MCT. It is slower to turn into energy but more affordable than C8. It doesn’t need to be processed by the liver. XCT Oil is triple-distilled in a non-oxygen atmosphere contains C10 and C8, because these are the only two MCT oils that turn into ATP quickly without the liver. You would need 6 tablespoons of coconut oil to get one tablespoon of XCT oil.
  • C12 – Lauric Acid: Coconut oil contains 50% of this MCT. Metabolized by the liver so it takes longer to convert into energy. Raises cholesterol more than the C8 and C10 types .

How MCTs Work

coconut oilMCTs help in raising levels of healthy cholesterol and speeding metabolic rates to aid in weight loss. In some people with a genetic predisposition to Alzheimer’s disease, they are found to temporarily improve cognitive functioning. When consumed, they, like most fats, are converted into glucose and ketones for the body to then convert to ATP, the body’s only usable form of energy. However, where most fats will convert into mostly glucose molecules (which go through a long and arduous process to become ATP), MCTs are converted into mostly ketones. Ketones do not require the same amount of time to convert to ATP, and thus become more readily available to the body as ATP. As a result, ketones are a good source of quick energy.

In addition to the easy conversion properties of ketones, MCTs specifically comprised of eight carbons in the carbon chain will bypass the liver and are almost immediately available as a source of fuel for the body (C8 and C10). This is because of the way the body will interpret the MCTs’ odd structure as a carbohydrate, rather than a fat. This can lead to an improvement in cognitive functioning because of the surge of readily available ATP.

Uses of MCTs

Some studies have shown that MCTs can help in the process of excess calorie burning, thus leading to weight loss. [1-5] MCTs are also seen as promoting fat oxidation and reduced food intake. Interest in MCTs has been expressed by endurance athletes and the bodybuilding community. A number of studies back the use of MCT oil as a weight loss supplement, but these claims are not without conflict, as about an equal number found inconclusive results. [6]

There is interest in using MCTs to treat Alzheimer’s disease because MCTs might provide extra energy to the brain and might also protect the brain against damage from beta-amyloid protein plaques. These plaques are the structures that form in Alzheimer’s disease and cause symptoms. Some research shows that a specific MCT product (AC-1202) does not significantly improve learning, memory and information processing (cognitive thinking) in people with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease, except in people with a particular genetic make-up (change in the APOE4 gene). In the people with the APEO4 gene change, a single dose of the MCT product seems to improve cognitive thinking skills. [7]

Benefits of MCTs

MCTs are very easy for the body to break down and use as energy. Because they’re so easy to absorb, MCTs are used therapeutically for people with absorption problems, like Crohn’s Disease. They’re also great for anyone missing a gallbladder.

MCTs are also the ultimate ketogenic fat: in fact, they’re so powerful that adding MCTs to your diet can increase the number of carbs you can eat while staying in ketosis. [7]

Precautions and Warnings

MCTs are safe for most people when taken by mouth or given intravenously (by IV). They can cause diarrhea, vomiting, irritability, nausea, stomach discomfort, intestinal gas, essential fatty acid deficiency, and other side effects. Taking MCTs with food might reduce some side effects.

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Not enough is known about the use of MCTs during pregnancy and breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

Diabetes: MCTs can cause certain chemicals called ketones to build up in the body. This can be a problem for people with diabetes. Avoid using MCTs if you have diabetes.

Liver problems: Because MCTs are processed primarily by the liver, they can cause serous problems in people with liver disease. Do not use MCTs if you have cirrhosis or other liver problems.

You can get MCTs from whole foods, the following list foods with the highest percentage of naturally occurring MCTs:

Using MCTs In Your Diet

  • Coconut oil: 15% (if you do not count Lauric acid as an MCT)
  • Palm kernel oil: 7.9%
  • Cheese: 7.3%
  • Butter: 6.8%
  • Milk: 6.9%
  • Yogurt: 6.6%

Coconut oil is the starter choice, but you will only provide you with 15% of MCTs . One way to increase your MCT total as well as the quality of the MCT is to use more pure forms of MCTs such as XCT oil and/or Brain Octane oil, which are made up of the C-8 and C-10 MCTS which are able to bypass liver processing, thus ensuring the most effective energy conversion possible and the best results in achieving energy and cognitive benefits.


  • May lead to fat loss, especially if you are following a ketogenic diet as it accelerates the creation of ketones in the body.
  • May lead to improved temporary cognitive function in Alzheimer patients that have lost the ability to metabolize glucose in the brain.
  • May lead to short term fat loss by increasing your metabolic rate and the speed in which fats are broken down (Lipolysis).
  • You should start slow with either 1/4 or 1/2 a teaspoon and work your way up to 1 tablespoon over a few weeks.
  • You could start out with Coconut Oil, and work your way up to an MCT oil product such as XCT Oil or Brain Octane.
  • Stay away from MCTs if you are pregnant, diabetic or have liver problems.


1.. M-P. St-Onge, P.J.H. Jones (2003). “Greater rise in fat oxidation with medium-chain triglyceride consumption relative to long-chain triglyceride is associated with lower initial body weight and greater loss of subcutaneous adipose tissue”. International Journal of Obesity 27 (12): 1565–1571. doi:10.1038/sj.ijo.0802467. PMID 12975635.

2.. B. Martena, M. Pfeuffer, J. Schrezenmeir (2006). “Medium-chain triglycerides”. International Dairy Journal 16 (11): 1374–1382. doi:10.1016/j.idairyj.2006.06.015.

3.. Takeuchi, H; Sekine, S; Kojima, K; Aoyama, T (2008). “The application of medium-chain fatty acids: edible oil with a suppressing effect on body fat accumulation”. Asia Pacific journal of clinical nutrition. 17 Suppl 1: 320–3. PMID 18296368.

4.. St-Onge, MP; Jones, PJ (2002). “Physiological effects of medium-chain triglycerides: potential agents in the prevention of obesity”. The Journal of nutrition 132 (3): 329–32. PMID 11880549.

5. Papamandjaris, AA; MacDougall, DE; Jones, PJ (1998). “Medium chain fatty acid metabolism and energy expenditure: obesity treatment implications”. Life Sciences 62 (14): 1203–15. doi:10.1016/S0024-3205(97)01143-0. PMID 9570335.

6. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22566308

7. Medium Chain Triglicerides – WebMD http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-915-medium+chain+triglycerides.aspx?


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